After strong showings at this years spring auctions in Hong Kong, we expected new Chinese collectors to dominate at Sothebys Contemporary Asian Art auction today in Hong Kong as they have at other recent wine, jewelry and jade sales. Apparently these collectors were in a buying mood today, as they pushed prices for top blue-chip contemporary artists including Zhang Xiaogang, Fang Lijun and Liu Yue beyond already high expectations, bringing the auctions grand total to HK$210 Million (US$27 Million), comfortably above pre-sale estimates of HK$150 million (US$19 Million).
Much as they have in other auctions over the past 18 months, collectors mainly from the Chinese Mainland showed a strong preference for works by increasingly scarce Chinese artists like Zhang Xiaogang, whose rarely seen early painting Chapter of a New Century Birth of the Peoples Republic of China II (1992) sold, apparently, to a museum under development in Shanghai for HK$52.2 million (US$6.7 million), well above its pre-sale estimate of HK$21 23 million (US$2.7 $3 million). Observers were eagerly watching the sale of this lot, as it was added to the auction at the last minute. Other lots by artists popular with Chinese collectors undoubtedly sent jaws dropping in Hong Kong, such as Zeng Fanzhis Mask Series No. 5, which sold for HK$16.9 million (US$2.2 million) nearly double its low estimate of HK$9 million and Fang Lijuns Untitled, which sold for HK$11.3 million (US$1.5 million), almost four times its pre-sale high estimate.
Other lots that proved popular with bidders included Sui Jianguos Legacy Mantle (selling for HK$1.1 million, over a high estimate of HK$500,000), Cai Guo-Qiangs Man, Eagle and Eye in the Sky: People (HK$11.8 million, over estimates of HK$7 9 million), and Liu Yes Untitled (HK$10.7 million, over estimates of HK$6-8 million). Chinese bidders have been instrumental in the ascendance of artists like Liu and Zeng Fanzhi, particularly in the last year.
The enthusiasm and willingness to buy that was seen today in Hong Kong validates many of ArtTactics recent findings on confidence levels in the Chinese contemporary art market. As Jing Daily noted last month, much of the dramatic rise in the confidence indicator among Chinese collectors which went from 15.9 in February 2009 to 73 in September 2010 can be attributed to the substantial improvement in the Hong Kong and mainland China auction markets. Following the impressive showing of Chinese artists at todays Contemporary Asian Art auction, it wouldnt be surprising if next springs survey shows an even greater improvement in these numbers.
Other highlights of todays auction:
Liu Yes RGB-Blue sold for HK$1.1 million (US$142,000), over pre-sale estimates of HK$250,000350,000
Untitled by Liu Wei sold for HK$187,500 (US$24,168), over estimates of HK$55,00080,000
Wang Guangyis Great Criticism Series: Casio went for HK$275,000 (US$35,446), well over pre-sale estimates of HK$120,000180,000
Yu Youhan's "Waving Mao" sold for nearly 7 times its pre-sale estimate
In addition to todays Contemporary Asian Art auction, bidders had their paddles at the ready at the Property from an Important European Collection single-owner sale, also in Hong Kong. Lots by artists such as Ding Yi, Zhang Xiaogang, Yue Minjun and Fang Lijun proved popular at this auction as well, with Dings Appearance of Crosses 6 selling for HK$8.4 million (US$1.08 million), far beyond its pre-sale estimates of HK$1,500,0002,500,000. Other highlights from the European Collector auction:
Yu Youhans The Waving Mao sold for a staggering HK$6.6 million (US$851,000), nearly seven times more than its high estimate of HK$900,000
Zhang Huans Family Tree: Set of 9 topped estimates, selling for HK$1.1 million (US$142,000), indicating growing interest in contemporary photography among Chinese collectors
Put Down Your Whip by Li Songsong beat its high estimate, going for HK$3.1 million (US$400,000)
Source: Jing Daily